When any discussion about classic cars is underway, it is inevitable the Chevrolet Chevelle will always be a car that gets heavily mentioned. It’s no wonder, as the model is an iconic muscle car that still commands respect from enthusiasts — even those who are not purveyors of the Bow Tie brand.
It was way back in 1964 when Chevrolet introduced the Chevelle to the buying public as a mid-size family transporter. It was designed to be a reliable mode of transportation, and the buying public flocked to dealerships to get their hands on the new model. In fact, 338,286 Chevelles were sold the first year. However, the car’s pedestrian-oriented early years soon gave way to more power and performance, and a boulevard monster was eventually unleashed.
A New Year, A New Design
When 1967 rolled around — unknown to buyers at the time — the Chevelle was reaching the end of the first-generation production run. It was quietly headed for a redesign, and before a new style was introduced for 1968, the first-gen A-body was a solid-selling performer. In fact, a 1967 sales brochure proclaimed, “What you’ll see inside will probably bring on a severe compulsion to go driving.”
There were even two new engine options for 1967: a 327ci small-block delivering 325-horsepower, and the 325-horsepower 396ci big block. It might seem strange that Chevrolet offered a small and big block with the same horsepower rating, but it was the ’60s, and anything was possible. The 325hp 396ci engine (RPO L35) was hydraulic-lifter equipped and offered a cast-iron intake and Quadrajet carburetor. The L34 option delivered a 350hp 396ci engine with a Holley carburetor. While the latter’s advertised-horsepower rating is lower than the previous year’s L34 mill, some feel this is just a number, and the L34 still retained the previous year’s 360 horses. Finally, buyers could opt for the L78 396ci engine that delivered 375 tire-frying horses.
Joe Williams of Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, has always been a fan of the Chevelle body style, and when he first saw this car many years ago, he knew it was something he wanted to own.
“Roughly 20 years ago, I saw this car driving through my neighborhood,” says Joe. “It wasn’t quite finished, and after I got to know the owner, Bill Wesley, I told him if he ever wanted to sell it, I would like to buy it. Finally, six years ago, I got my chance.” By that time, Bill had basically completed the car’s rebuild, but Joe tells us he has done a few minor things to it since then.
When the “restoration” was started under Bill’s guidance many years ago, the body did need some repair. “Bill replaced the quarter-panels and floors with NOS pieces,” Joe states. After Joe acquired the car, he did notice a few spots where the paint could benefit from some touch-up. For that reason, the car was sent to Todd Kulp’s Body Shop in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, to perfect the Nantucket Blue and Ermine White metal covering.
Like every other SS396 sport coupe and convertible, Joe’s ride was delivered new with an SS-specific reinforced frame and revised front suspension that included higher-rate springs, recalibrated shocks, and a thicker front stabilizer bar. All of those factory specs were adhered to during the restoration, as the front suspension was rebuilt to stock specs. That includes retaining the stock power-assisted drum/drum brakes.
When the ’67 models were new, the sales brochure proclaimed, “The combination of gleaming, lustrous, Magic-Mirror finish outside and handsome durable trim inside will keep your Chevelle a source of pride and joy for years to come.” That handsome, durable interior trim is almost all new in Joe’s Chevelle, thanks to Bill Wesley and parts from PUI Interiors. But, some of the interior parts are as delivered. “The console, dash, and steering column have never been restored,” affirms Joe.
Power To Burn… Tires
Under the hood, this ’67 benefits from a mid-level 396ci engine (L34). From the factory, this engine used a two-bolt-main block with a more aggressive hydraulic camshaft than the L35 (.461/.480-inch lift, and 214/218 degrees of duration at .050-inch lift) and squeezed a 10.25:1 compression ratio. Up top is a cast-iron manifold topped with a 4160 Holley carburetor. An open-element air cleaner replaces the standard enclosed unit used that was installed on the 325hp engines.
Joe’s engine was rebuilt as close to stock as possible during the rebuild. However, there were a few liberties taken in the quest for more power. In true day-two fashion, the factory manifolds were ditched in favor of a set of long-tube headers, and a pair of Flowmaster mufflers struggle to contain the exhaustive noises.
Behind the mid-level big-block, we find a Turbo 400 that handles the rat’s power with ease. It is mated to a 12-bolt with 3.31 gears and a Posi unit. If this doesn’t make for a fun driving combination, I’m not sure what will.
Speaking of driving, as great as this car looks, Joe still tries to get in as much seat time as possible, going to car shows and cruise nights. We’re betting that is because, as the ’67 ad proclaimed, “What you’ll see inside will probably bring on a severe compulsion to go driving.” Who can blame him when he owns what is arguably one of Chevrolet’s greatest-looking cars.